ARC aids disabled during emergencies

If you struggle due to a physical or mental disability, or if you are close to someone who does, perhaps you have wondered what would happen in the case of an emergency or natural disaster. The Association of Rights for Citizens (ARC) with disabilities in Northeast Mississippi is an organization which seeks to provide relief in the case of such an event. The ARC of Northeast Mississippi is allied with the ARC of the United States and is a branch of the state ARC. As of now, the Northeast branch is not well-known. However, volunteers in this region are doing all possible to spread word about the ARC’s mission. The ARC is a database for people who are elderly and/or disabled, and the system is put into action in the case of an emergency or disaster. For example, if a tornado or ice storm strikes Northeast Mississippi and leaves disabled residents without medical essentials, the ARC’s database is accessed so that if someone in Dist. 5 needs oxygen, volunteers will know who needs it, where he or she lives, and will have access to an emergency contact for that person. Enrolling oneself into this system is completely voluntary. There is a link on the ARC’s website which leads to the necessary forms to be filled out. While volunteers are aware that many people do not know how to function on the internet, they are in the process of spreading information about the ARC throughout the community by leaving materials in doctors’ offices and clinics. They are also sending paper copies by mail to local residents. If there is any information on the form which applicants wish to omit, they are free to do so. President Sherry Dunnam explains that the association is currently working on setting up committees which will become active during disasters. The ARC works with area churches and anyone who is willing to volunteer financial donations or contribute time or personal assets if and when the system is activated. “Hopefully the system will never have to be used, but we just want people to know that it’s here. We want to be able to help those with special needs,” said Dunnam. As of now, Dunnam reports that this system has yet to be put to use. She explains that roughly 25-30 people have signed up so far. All that is required of applicants is that they fill out the questionnaire and pay the fee. It costs $25/year for a family and $15/year for an individual. Likewise, those who are older and self-advocated for their disabilities can join the branch known as “My Voice, My Choice” for $5/year. All information given by those who sign up is strictly confidential. It is only given to the emergency responders so that they will know where to go and what to do. “We’re just trying to let people know how important it is,” said Dunnam. The ARC of Northeast Mississippi holds quarterly meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for March 31 in Tupelo. Since most members live in Tupelo, it is a central location for everyone. The People’s Bank has been a huge supporter of the ARC of Northeast Mississippi. Dunnam says, “Without those people, we probably wouldn’t exist.” She further explains that since all who work for the ARC are volunteers, they cannot work as much as they’d like, so they would “love to have more volunteers.” While applicants from Tippah County are welcome to join, the ARC of Northeast Mississippi is not strictly limited to this county. “We’re not going to turn anyone down,” said Dunnam. For more information: The number to the office is: (662) 993-9486 The President is Sherry Dunnam: (h) 662-837-1380 The Vice President is Annette Rinehart: 662-416-3577

The ARC of Northeast Mississippi